Thursday, September 04, 2014

2014 NFL Predictions

Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks certainly have enough talent to repeat as Super Bowl champions, however, there will certainly be a few hungry teams in their way

The 2014 NFL season promises to provide plenty of interesting storylines. Heck, even in the preseason, we already have plenty of noise throughout the league that's kept football atop the headlines, even as baseball's playoff races begin to heat up.

But let's get something out of the way right now. Here in New England, we're spoiled. We know that our team will once again be a contender for the Lombardi Trophy. We know this because Tom Brady is the quarterback, because Bill Belichick is the coach, and because Darrelle Revis is the best cornerback in the NFL.

It's a league in which winners are built on star quarterbacks and shutdown defensive backs. I know what you're thinking after reading that statement: "But the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year with Russell Wilson as their QB."

Perhaps you don't consider WIlson a star quarterback like I do. That's fine. We disagree on that then. But nobody can disagree with the fact that the Seahawks had the most physical secondary in the league.

And the defending Super Bowl champs will most certainly have a chance to repeat this year. But to play spoiler with you for a minute, I'm not going to put my money on that to happen.

Here are my official 2014 NFL Predictions:

DIVISION WINNERS

AFC EAST: New England Patriots
-I actually think the Miami Dolphins should be taken seriously this year. But at the same time, the Pats will win 12 games again. Ultimately, the Dolphins' 10 wins won't be enough to overcome the kings of the AFC East. Expect the Patriots to be dominant on both sides of the ball. Brady is playing with a little extra motivation this year. Might as well give him the regular-season MVP trophy now.

AFC NORTH: Baltimore Ravens
-My reasoning for this pick will be controversial, mainly because every time we see Ray Rice run the football, we'll be reminded of the fact that he knocked out his girlfriend in an elevator and is only facing a two-game suspension for it. Well, as brutal as that is, when Rice returns, expect him to bounce back from his worst pro season -- as an established NFL running back -- in 2013. Rice is only 27. Last year he ran for 660 yards in 15 games, marking the first time he didn't rush for 1,000 yards since his rookie season in 2008. fantasy football know-it-alls can study their draft rankings all they want, but when Rice returns from his suspension, he's still young enough and talented enough to help the Ravens get back to the playoffs.

AFC SOUTH: Indianapolis Colts
-Andrew Luck got a taste of the postseason last year, but unfortunately for him, he ran into the Patriots in the Divisional Round. The Colts should win the division again, and it might only take 10 wins to do so. The Houston Texans will improve on their 2-14 record in 2013, but even after trading for Ryan Mallett, they still won't have a good enough passing attack to grab a Wild Card spot. Expect the Luck-to-Reggie-Wayne connection to steal the AFC South's headlines all year.

AFC WEST: Denver Broncos
-It won't be a walk in the park, but do you really expect the Broncos to not win the division? Kansas City had 11 wins last year, and I think the Chiefs are good for at least 10 wins this season. And San Diego seems to always find itself in the Wild Card hunt. This division had three playoff teams in 2013. That could very well be the case once again in 2014. But there's no way that either of those two teams will knock off the Broncos.

AFC WILD CARD:
-Kansas City Chiefs
-Cincinnati Bengals


NFC EAST: New York Giants
-This would be the moment in which I pick the G-Men to bounce back from their 7-9 record last season. It's funny, all that talk about Eli Manning being "elite" not too long ago, and here we are with a New York Giants team that's missed the playoffs the last two seasons. Of course, that comes after they won a Super Bowl three years ago, but still. The Eagles won 10 games last year, and he obsession with Chip Kelly's offense will make them the popular pick to once again win the East. But I do think Eli is much better than the 18 touchdowns and 27 interceptions that he threw last season. At least, I expect him to be good enough to get the Giants back to the top of the division this year.

NFC NORTH: Green Bay Packers
-It's kind of crazy to think that the Packers won the division last year with only eight wins. An injured Aaron Rodgers missed most of the second half, but returned for the last regular season game and the playoffs. If Rodgers can stay healthy for the entire season, the Packers will be one of the best teams in the NFC, if not the entire NFL.

NFC SOUTH: New Orleans Saints
-Had Cam Newton not suffered a hairline fracture in his ribs during the preseason, my pick here would be the Carolina Panthers. But if I can't put my money on Newton's health now, I can't put my money on the Panthers. So I'll go with the Saints, who lost to the Seahawks in the Divisional ROund last year. Brees has thrown for 5,000 yards his last three seasons, and I don't expect him to fall off in 2014. Expect New Orleans to make some serious noise.

NFC WEST: Seattle Seahawks
-As long as Seattle remains the toughest place to play in professional sports, then the Seahawks are my pick here. And remember how I feel about Russell Wilson. I believe he's one of the elite quarterbacks in the game. The kid is only 25 years old, and entering his third season, he's only getting better. Strong arm, accurate when throwing on the run, and as smart as they come, Wilson is the real deal, even if your fantasy football draft guide doesn't say so. The San Francisco 49ers obviously get a serious look here, but at the end of the day, I don't see the Seahawks taking a step back in the 2014 regular season.

NFC WILD CARD:
-San Francisco 49ers
-Atlanta Falcons 


NFL PLAYOFFS

AFC WILD CARD ROUND:
-Indianapolis Colts over Cincinnati Bengals
-Baltimore Ravens over Kansas City Chiefs

NFC WILD CARD ROUND:
-New Orleans Saints over Atlanta Falcons
-San Francisco 49ers over New York Giants


AFC DIVISIONAL ROUND:
-New England Patriots over Baltimore Ravens
-Denver Broncos over Indianapolis Colts

NFC DIVISIONAL ROUND:
-Green Bay Packers over San Francisco 49ers
-Seattle Seahawks over New Orleans Saints


AFC CHAMPIONSHIP:
-New England Patriots over Denver Broncos

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP:
-Green Bay Packers over Seattle Seahawks


SUPER BOWL XLIX:
-New England Patriots over Green Bay Packers

See you in Arizona.

@DannyPicard

Monday, August 25, 2014

In-studio with Edelman and Jones

I filled in as host of the WEEI 93.7 FM mid-day show on Monday, and both Julian Edelman and Chandler Jones stopped by our Gillette Stadium studio to talk with me and former Patriot Christian Fauria

Listen to our conversation with Edelman.
-When asked about this year's preseason, Edelman said: "I mean, yeah, it's probably the most confident I've ever been."
-He also discussed Tom Brady's motivation this season, even off the field: "We'll be playing a cornhole game in the locker room, and this guy is trying to win and is the most competitive guy over a gentleman's bet. That's Tom. He wants to go out and he wants to do the best he can every time. That's what a leader does. It becomes contagious, and it makes other guys want to do the same thing."

Listen to our conversation with Chandler Jones.
-Jones acknowledged that he wants to increase his sack total in 2014. But we tried to get an exact number out of him.

You can also go to WEEI.com to hear our "Three For All" segment, in which we discuss the VMA's Mustard-drinking, and shots intended for Justin Bieber.

Friday, August 01, 2014

What just happened?

Not even a full calendar year after leading the Red Sox to a World Series championship, Jon Lester and John Lackey were both shipped out of town before Thursday's trade deadline

On Friday's podcast, I reacted to all of Boston's moves, and dissected Ben Cherington's press conference comments about the team's attempted contract discussions with Lester.

Put it this way, I'm not exactly taking Lester's side.

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@DannyPicard

Thursday, July 31, 2014

So long, Jon

Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes were traded to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes on Thursday, landing Boston a power-hitting outfielder, but making the A's a Major League powerhouse

In a vacuum, adding Cespedes to the middle of your lineup is a special acquisition. But if it means not coming to terms with your ace, then perhaps it shouldn't be celebrated.

The Red Sox traded away their ace in Lester, and while adding a damn good player, it confirms the harsh reality that Lester and the Sox just couldn't agree on a contract extension.

Don't get me wrong, I like Cespedes. But I would have preferred to re-sign Lester.

Some think that will still be possible this offseason. I think it's too good to be true.

On Thursday's podcast, I reacted to the Lester trade, as well as applauding Gomes for succeeding in a role that's tough to find.

(Note: Thursday's podcast was recorded before John Lackey was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals)

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@DannyPicard

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hometown discount?

It seems like it was just yesterday that Jon Lester publicly announced his willingness to "leave money on the table" in order to stay in Boston, but with a trade now seemingly inevitable, one has to wonder just how much the Red Sox' ace was actually asking for

If Lester is traded before Thursday's July 31 deadline, then make no mistake about it, Red Sox ownership will take some serious heat.

In fact, they're already taking it.

But to be fair, as of Wednesday morning, we don't actually know any of the final numbers that were thrown around in the negotiation room . . . from either side.

All this talk about the Red Sox "not willing to match the market value for Lester" doesn't hold much weight to me, when, not too long ago, Lester publicly -- and almost emphatically -- said he would take less than his market value.

So what changed? And could Lester be getting off easy?

I discussed on Wednesday's podcast, and Providence Journal Red Sox beat writer Brian MacPherson joined me.

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@DannyPicard

Monday, July 28, 2014

Trade Lester?

The closer we get to Thursday's non-waiver trade deadline, the more Jon Lester trade rumors we are going to hear, but now that the Red Sox have officially given up on 2014, there's no reason to "table" contract talks any longer

On Monday's podcast, I reacted to some of the Lester trade rumors while staying confident that there's still time to get an extension done to keep him in Boston.

Comcast SportsNet's Mike Giardi joined the show to talk Red Sox, as well as New England Patriots training camp.

Plus, my reaction to Joe Torre forgetting to thank George Steinbrenner in his 28-minute MLB Hall-of-Fame induction speech.

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@DannyPicard

Saturday, July 26, 2014

It's over

The Red Sox returned from the All-Star break to sweep the Kansas City Royals, but then collapsed against divisional rivals, essentially crushing any hope for a playoff appearance

On WEEI 93.7 FM Saturday, I finally gave up on the 2014 Boston Red Sox. Listen here.

Also, Barstool Sports' Jerry Thornton joined me in-studio and we looked back at the first few days of New England Patriots training camp. Listen here.

@DannyPicard

Monday, July 21, 2014

Stanton to the Sox?

Giancarlo Stanton isn't going anywhere before this year's trade deadline, but come the offseason, expect the Boston Red Sox to be in the mix if he is made available

We've all thought of him. But how realistic is it? A little more realistic than you think.

As I said on WEEI 93.7 FM over the weekend, and again on Monday's podcast: Red Sox sources tell me they believe they're one of only a few teams in Major League Baseball that have the prospects to make a Stanton trade happen, if he is made available this winter.

That doesn't seem like earth-shattering news to anybody who is familiar with Boston's farm system. But, it's now clear that Stanton is being considered -- within the Red Sox organization -- as a realistic acquisition this offseason, if the Marlins would actually be willing to move him. So much so, that the Sox believe they'd be one of the favorites to land Stanton.

I went into some more detail on Monday's podcast.

Also, ESPN-Boston's Joe McDonald joined me to discuss the Red Sox' playoff hopes after winning seven-of-eight and sweeping the Kansas City Royals. We also tried to predict Ben Cherington's mindset entering the July 31 trade deadline.

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@DannyPicard

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jeter's Farewell

It was "Derek Jeter Night" in Minnesota on Tuesday, and as he tipped his All-Star cap one last time at the Midsummer Classic, we now look to crown a new "face" of Major League Baseball

When Jeter is all done after this season, who will be the face to represent the game? My guess is Giancarlo Stanton. But he'll have to play in a major baseball market like, let's say, Boston or New York.

On Wednesday's podcast, I didn't rule out that type of major trade. Hey, the Marlins have done it before.

Also, what's up with Adam Wainwright's comments during the All-Star Game?

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@DannyPicard

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

LeBron goes home

LeBron James' decision to return to Cleveland is a great story for the NBA, but it also affects Kevin Love's trade market

Comcast SportsNet NBA insider A. Sherrod Blakely joined me on Tuesday's podcast to discuss LeBron's decision and to look ahead at what it means for Love.

And also, what it means for the Boston Celtics.

Plus, I reacted to the MLB All-Star festivities, and took a look at where the Boston Red Sox currently stand at the break.

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@DannyPicard 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Talkin' LeBron on Comcast SportsNet



I joined Mike Felger, Bob Neumeier, and Dan Shaughnessy on Comcast SportsNet, Thursday night, and we discussed the LeBron James saga, before he made his decision to go back to Cleveland

@DannyPicard

Monday, July 07, 2014

Something in the works?

The Boston Celtics have signed Avery Bradley to a four-year, $32 million deal, and it seems a little crazy, unless it's just the first shoe to drop on something a whole lot bigger

Hearing reports that the C's are "relentless" in their pursuit of Kevin Love, Bradley's new contract might have more to do with matching salaries with a certain player in a potential trade.

That player is 31-year-old guard Kevin Martin, who signed a four-year, $28 million deal last summer with the Minnesota Timberwolves. If the 'Wolves are going to pay $7-8 million a year for a guard, why not pay that money to a 23-year-old Bradley instead of a 31-year-old Martin who dealt with a foot injury at the end of last season?

And why not make Bradley part of a package that could send Love to Boston?

It's my theory. And I'm sticking to it. To me, there's more to Bradley's contract than meets the eye.

On Monday's podcast, Comcast SportsNet New England columnist Rich Levine joined me to discuss the Celtics' offseason so far, and to take a look at other NBA news.

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Listen to "I'm Just Sayin" every weekday by subscribing on iTunes (refresh in iTunes to download latest podcast).

@DannyPicard